What Is An Anorectal Abscess

An anorectal abscess is a painful, swollen cavity filled with pus, often resulting from the bacterial infection of an anal or rectal gland.

  • When a mucus gland in the anal or rectal wall is blocked, pus filled abscesses form due to bacterial infections.
  • Pain and swelling in the anal area are the usual symptoms.
  • Physical examination of the anus and tests using viewing scopes diagnose the condition.
  • Abscess may be surgically drained by lancing.

The origin of an abscess is usually from an anal or rectal gland which normally produces the mucus that lubricates the anal and rectal canals to facilitate smooth bowel movements. A blockage in the gland can cause bacteria to multiply inside and the gland may get enlarged and become filled with pus, resulting in an abscess. Because of the rich blood supply to the anus, infections rarely occur there in spite of large number of bacteria present in fecal matter. But once infection sets in, it can spread and damage surrounding areas. Occasionally, fecal incontinence or loss of bowel control may result. People with pelvic inflammatory disease or Crohn’s disease are more at risk of complications. Diverticulitis may lead to the formation of abscesses.

Symptoms

Abscesses nearer to the skin cause more discomfort. Pain and tenderness may be felt and the area may have swelling and redness. Deeper abscesses may not have visible symptoms in the anal area, but pain may felt in the lower abdomen and the person may develop fever.

Diagnosis

Abscesses nearer to the skin may be visible to the doctor on physical examination. The anus and rectum may be examined with a gloved finger to detect any painful swelling and tenderness which may indicate a deep abscess. A CT scan may be done to detect the exact location and size of an abscess which is deep and inaccessible.

Treatment Of Anorectal Abscess

The primary treatment of anorectal abscesses usually involves surgical draining of the abscess, as antibiotics have very little role in curing the condition. However, they are prescribed for people with diabetes and immunodeficiency to control the infection. Abscesses nearer to the surface of the skin may be lanced under local anesthesia but the deeper abscesses may have to be drained by surgery in the operation theatre under general anesthesia. Hospitalization also may be necessary. The down side is that following the surgical draining of the abscess, in more than half the cases, the drained abscess develops into an abnormal channel, called anorectal fistula, between the surface skin and the rectum or anus.

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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